Category Archives: Body

Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day: Sleeping Gloves

My hands are a gnarly dry mess. My thumbs could sand 2X4s, my knuckles are cracked and I’m shedding dry skin like like cats shed hair in June. Don Giovanni would never sing “La ci darem la mano” to me.

Which made me rustle through my lingerie drawers for my sleeping gloves. You know, the ones I bought from The Vermont Country Store in, like, 1979. I didn’t find a single glove and I’m cross.

I know gloves have gone the way of MS DOS, but these gloves were special in a pure Vermonty way. Wrist length, white cotton. You’d slather your hands with the unguent of choice, slip on the gloves, and awake, after three faithful days, to hands worthy to be kissed by an Archduke.

I Googled about and discovered the The Vermont Country Store still carries them, at about three times what I spent back in the day. I’m going to close my eyes, click , and order three more pairs.

Go here:

http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/store/jump/productDetail/Health_&_Beauty/Health_&_Beauty/100spPerc_Cotton_Knit_Sleeping_Gloves_(Set_of_3_Pairs)/59951

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Body, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Site of the Day, Twenty bucks

Don’t Worry Baby — It’ll be Fun Fun Fun

So, it’s in the high forties in the ‘Ville, I’m in a creative slump and I miss California. The Rx was lying there, unjacketed, slipping around on our tower of cds.

The Best of the Beach Boys. Oh man, I was fourteen again, frugging in the basement rec room of our house in Trois-Rivieres Quebec. I’d never heard of a girl named Rhonda — my friend’s names ran to Elizabeth, Joanne, Kathy and Debbie. I liked my school fine, but being true to it was an alien concept. I’d swum only in fresh water, never seen a surfboard except on a Beach Boys album cover, and “Tach it up, tach it up, Buddy gonna shut you down,” might as well have been Finnish.

It was mysterious sunshine, a teenager existence I couldn’t imagine. (I did realize they’d ripped off Chuck Berry, big time.) I totally got “In My Room.”

When I got to college the Beach Boys dropped acid  in quantities that made my two terrifying trips look like two grains of sand on Manhattan Beach. The upside: “Sloop John B” and “Good Vibrations,” and that’s a huge upside. The downside is that Brian Wilson went nuts.

When my daughter moved to Los Angeles I understood at last that blissed-out, sunny, surfy SoCal car-driven culture. I understood the close harmony singing. “Surfin Safari” made sense. So did “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.”

And, oh yes, “Good Vibrations.”

So, the cold and grey has disappeared and I’m grooving to “Dance, Dance Dance” as I type this. The Beach Boys are the sonic equivalent to those bright lights that fight SAD in dark northern climes. So bright, so happy, so about dancing and surfing and driving fast. I’m not up to all of this stuff, especially the driving, but the sunshine, the surf, the heroes and villains are making me hear a V-8 purr and smell salt water and feel the clouds lift. The Beach Boys are aural Prozac, irresistible, the remedy for Celtic genes. Cheap sunshine.My new cure (and old cure) for the grim and grey. If only everything was so simple. Wouldn’t it be nice?

1 Comment

Filed under Body, History, Into the Mystic, Music, Ten bucks or fewer, The 'Ville, Uncategorized

Object of the Day: Tisket! Taskit! Check Out My New Basket

Some goofball once said something like: “Pleasure postponed is pleasure doubled.” I’m not all about instant gratification; that two day UPS hang time is about perfect. The fine folks at L L Bean backordered my bike basket for a friggin’ month and a half.  Shipping, as always, was free.

Oh, I love it. I regret that I can’t photo style it with a baguette and a bunch of bluebells — my package of English muffins and bouquet of rogue goldenrod doesn’t hit that hip lady in Amsterdam vibe. Or the Miss Marple vibe. Or the wife of an investment banker in Nantucket vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirty bucks isn’t too much to pay (free shipping!) for a rich fantasy life and a vehicle in which I can return library books, is it? It’s so much prettier than the woven  pink plastic woven dealio that carried my textbooks home from high school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love its retro convergence with my air horn. I love that it attaches to the handlebars with doll-sized leather belts : no screwdriver required. I love that I can remove it in a snap, and it’ll become my farmer’s market shopping bag.

Mostly I love that I’ve constructed the bike of my dreams. No gears. A comfortable saddle. The ability to sit up straight and watch the world, not the road. Serious exercise for legs and butt.  A Keystone Cop kinda air horn. And a basket I’ll take to TJ’s and load up with flowers, wine, and cheap snack food.

4 Comments

Filed under Body, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, How Cool is That?, On the Street Where I Live, Worth it anyway

Around the Ville: Trains, Bikes and Atom Smashers

I’ve been tooling around the ‘Ville on my bepetalled cruiser, congratulating myself that I had the brains to insist on a bike with no gears to shift, a coaster break, and a saddle and handlebars that allow me to keep my seat on the seat . At last I can check out the landscape instead of the white line on the road, and, anyway,  I’ve never cared for skin-tight spandex on a hot day.

One of my favorite short rides — about five miles round trip — meanders along Batavia Road in the ‘Ville, then onto the Fermilab bike path for a short stretch of its considerable length. Today I remembered my camera, so come with me on my virtual bicycle built for two. I’ll let you squeeze the air horn if you remember to bring a bottle of water.

I want to show you a couple of charming gardens;both of them come right up to the sidewalk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old rattan and petunias.

The next three pictures show you the “public garden” created by garden writer (and my colleague at The Village Chronicles) Shawna Coronado. It extends the length of three houses, along the easement between their back fences and the sidewalk. For tired bicyclists and walkers she provides two full-size park benches. This is about half way down the garden path.

A sweet little detail:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another view — I love the lone ten foot tall sunflower at the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And another:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pedaling right along we come to the level crossing for the old EJ&E tracks, now the CN tracks. For thirty years I’ve been hearing trains in the night, and when I’m staying somewhere else I miss that low slow rumble.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross those tracks and you’re breathing the same air and biking the same path as a few hundred of smartest people on earth:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the gates. While the property is still open to runners and bicyclists, it’s been closed to non-authorized cars since 9/11. It’s enormous acreage, most of it pure prairie. It houses its own herd of bison (you can smell it downwind) and provides a sort of federal wilderness preserve and wetlands.

When the superconducting supercollider came to town, the locals redubbed it The Atom Smasher, not as alliterative, but more descriptive. And shorter.

Welcome to the home of the Top Quark.

 

 

 

 

Bring your bait and tackle — this is literally the first time I haven’t seen kids and grandpas fishing here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A path-side sculpture. Or something. Any atomic scientists in the house?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking the pristine spell of the place, but beautiful and powerful in their own way are the miles and miles of enormous power towers. You need mucho megawatts to smash atoms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s where I turned around tonight , a big white clapboard building, “Aspen East.” It’s a community center for employees, backed by tennis courts, volleyball courts, and picnic tables. I wonder if they hold keggers in there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was hot and muggy, and I’d forgotten my water bottle so I headed home. What I’ve shown you is a fraction of the Fermilab bike path — I was hoping to bring on the bison, the wild apple trees and Fermilab itself. Now that the collider in CERN is #1 Atom Smasher, Fermilab has lost some funding. It will be around for basic research, they say. Oh God, I hope so.

I biked back after about half an hour, only to wait as one of the longest freight trains in memory chugged by.

My street is unremarkable: lots of flags, driveway basketball hoops and nice people. I’ve shown you a tiny snapshot of Warrenville, close up, from behind my handlebars. When I get a lock and chain for my bike, I’ll take you to the library! Be still your hearts.

8 Comments

Filed under Body, Free, Growing things, History, Home, The 'Ville, The Great Outdoors

LA Journal: Ozzie Dots

I love Los Angeles. I say that loud and proud, and you’re hearing this from someone who sniffed with disdain at the very mention of LALA land — no good places to walk, no high culture, too hot, superficial, blah blah blah. Of course that was before I’d ever been to LA. When I first walked out the doors at LAX, I fell madly in love, even though the view from the Arrivals sidewalk consists of a parking garage and my daughter wasn’t yet in the frame of that first snapshot . I learned that every single one of my snooty preconceptions was wronger than socks with sandals.
I was reminded of all these things last night when I was dressing to go to a barbecue at my ‘Villian buddies, Gretchen and Darryl. Yeah, well, the shirt’s too big (Mens L) but on a sticky night all that cottony drape seemed like a good idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But you have to see a close up of the print to understand why I bought this, the first “Hawaiian” shirt ever to grace a hanger in my closet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was made for the US Water Polo Team in 1996, when the Olympics were held in Atlanta. The shirt’s stupendous deco print didn’t bring our lads any luck: they finished seventh, and watched Spain, Croatia and Italy on the medal stand.

This good-as-new beauty cost me exactly one dollar. I found it on a “Everything’s a Dollar!” rack on the sidewalk in front of:

 

 

 

 

It’s Ozzie Dots, on Hollywood Blvd., a few blocks away from the kids’ apartment in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Felez Village, their hood until a few weeks ago. I swiped the photo from their website: http://www.ozziedots.com . To get the real feel of the interior, check out the YouTube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFomO5HE_u8

 

Ozzie Dots does costumes, wigs, theatrical makeup (fushia false eyelashes, anyone?) vintage clothing,Levis 501 jeans and “Hawaiiana” — random kitsch and lots and lots of shirts that would look good if you were hauling your long board to the beach. Or the Water Polo pool.

It’s a cramped, crowded wonderland. Lou usually drags me out forcibly after an hour, so we can devote a couple of hours browsing at Soap Plant Wacko http://www.soapplant.com/ next door. (It’s another pilgrimage shopping spot for us, and I’ll devote an entire post to it at a later time.) Does Ozzie Dots sell anything I need? Um, no. I’m not in show business, their goodish-quality costumes are too far away for a quick trip after work on Oct. 3o, and I there’s a 30/70 chance I could find a pair of vintage 501s in the back of Lou’s closet.

I want everything.

But some pix from Honor last year showed me why Ozzie Dots is as necessary as few bags of Tootsie Rolls when Halloween rolls around in LA. I mean, here in the ‘Ville I can’t walk a few blocks and pick up a Bride of Frankenstein wig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mean, beyond!  The slinky silver knit dress counts as vintage — my mother wore it in the late 70s, and Honor herself wore it to a high school formal. (Doesn’t her girlfriend make a winsome Frieda Kahlo?)

LA: I’ll be back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under About a buck, Body, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, How Cool is That?, LA Journal

Chicago Chutney: Cheap and Cheerful

I could bitch on endlessly about the heat wave of 2011, and I might still. I’m an English rose, not a hot weather bromeliad. I wilt, I sweat, my hair and shirt plaster to my skin and I’m not good for much but lolling — even in air conditioning. My garden? The weeds are as high as an elephant’s eye. My beautiful birthday bike — the heat’s cheated me out of my summer fun and workout. It’s been so hot that I haven’t even made it out mi casa to buy my longed-for basket and bell.

Nuts.

But hunger happens, even if one’s been dogging it reading thrillers, vacating the couch only to take a shower and grab a glass of ginger ale. Skinless boneless chicken breasts were on sale, and because I’m dumber in the summer, I bought a pack because there’s no other cut of meat than can be transformed into edibility with zero effort. They’ve been rubbed with Thai chile paste and will be sauteed in five minutes. The timer has just beeped, so the basmati rice pilaf awaits.

But today I used  some cherries, pears, celery, onion, garlic, jalapenos, onion, cider vinegar,cumin and white raisins to make an informal chutney. I channeled my Indian sisters — I understand the heat and humidity are dreadful in Delhi.  Chutney is a relish reared in India, and like any great condiment it can be tinkered. Suvir Saran’s Tomato Chutney rocked me and propelled me to try other varietys, like Mint Chutney. I have mentioned that I run a mint farm?

I love making chutney with what lurks in the fridge. Today it was two pears and some disappointing Bing cherries, along with the aforesaid ingredients. Chutney must be sweet and sour, hot and cool, spicy and vegetal. It’s like exotic cranberry sauce, and this is the bowl I serve my sauce in everything Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s terrific with every meat except beef. Your grilled cheese sandwich will sing, and I adore it with any soft stinky cheese. You’ve got apples, nectarines, nasty hard peaches, apricots, aging zucchini? Yum. The vinegar can be anything handy: cider, white, red wine, white wine, balsamic. The sweet? Go for it : honey, white sugar, brown sugar,  whatever.

It’s hardly more complicated than making applesauce, but I’m saving applesauce for a cool October day when the sun’s shining, it’s 65 degrees and the air’s like champagne. If I’m not greedy, I may have a scrape of chutney in a jar in the fridge in October. More likely? I’ll use it up on a Croque Madame within a month.

 

3 Comments

Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Body, Food

My New Wheels!

Ain’t she a beauty!

Lou asked me what I wanted my my birthday. You know, that’s getting harder as I get older. When I was fifteen years younger and a little better off, my answer was “Go to the silver room at Tiffany and buy me a bracelet.” He did, and I have a lovely collection. Much older and much poorer, I was stuck, but just for a minute.

“Bring me a bottle of Guerlain’s Jicky, or buy me a bike. A real bike, not like the ones we sold for ten bucks each three years ago. I want something with a seat that doesn’t split my buttocks like some creep in an S&M blog. No gears. No hand breaks.”

I was describing the red CCM I learned to bike on when I was ten. Sure, riding up the steep coteaux in Trois-Rivieres was real work, even for a fit twelve year old. But I wasn’t forcing my weight on aching wrists, staring at the pavement, as I did on my zillion speed racing bike. I could look around me, checking out traffic and the Dairy Queen and Notre Dame des Sept Allegresses. I could signal with my thumb on the handle of a bell, and I could carry my homework home in my bike basket.

You know how you can pull up a supremely happy moment as if it were a (to continue the retro tech thing) slide? Another birthday, long ago, when Honor was, perhaps, three. I was working as the supervisor of the Junior Lingerie department of Carson Pirie Scott on State Street, and because I worked later than he did, Lou would pick me up in the red Ford Fiesta. On that birthday evening, I crossed Wabash to wait for my ride, and looked south. Lou was riding a red bicycle up the sidewalk, with my daughter perched on the handlebars, her blonde curls flying. They were both grinning, she was squealing, the  El  clattering above us. He strapped the bike to the roof of the Fiesta and we drove back to 1208 W. Lexington, where he gave me a martini and his other present, a Mahalia Jackson LP. I stood on the back porch, looking over the unrivalled Chicago skyline, a tiny bit buzzed and feeling the Spirit run up and down my spine while Mahalia sang “Born in Bethlehem.”

I’ve had great birthdays, but that one is my favorite. Young as I was, I knew there was powerful magic happening. And I loved that bike. When we moved to the ‘Ville we were a one car family, so in decent weather I’d ride to work (in a dress and heels) along the Prairie Path. Sometimes I glowed when I arrived at the Unisys Training Center, sometimes I arrived wet from a a shower, sometimes I showed up with a bouquet of wildflowers.  Once I arrived home with the magic pastoral terror of the great outdoor god Pan, because a red fox had fled before my wheels.

The bike got stolen, and I endured twenty years of racing bikes and mountain bikes, eyes downward, wrists aching. ‘Lor love a duck, I’m not an athlete, I just like to pedal about, go to the library, feel the burn in my thighs and see and smell the flowers.

Lou received my rigorous standards for the bicycle of my dreams, and he met and exceeded them. (It was cheaper than a bottle of Jicky.) This bike could have been ridden by Miss Marple or Twiggy.

Daisy detailing, whitewalls with sky blue trim.

Note: No gears, no brakes. I’m going to buy a basket and a bell and I’m going to cruise around, no hands, looking up and looking around.

11 Comments

Filed under Body, Machines, On the Street Where I Live, The 'Ville, The Great Outdoors, Worth it anyway